About the Symposium

This symposium will bring together scholars from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI) in Japan and the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS) in the University of Hong Kong to explore historical and contemporary contexts and issues surrounding radiation in Japan and the United States.

“Nishina Yoshio and US Export of Radioisotopes to Occupied Japan” by Dr. Kenji Ito
In recent studies on the history of science in the post-WWII era, the radioisotope has become an object of serious investigations. Not only did the radioisotope become a vital tool in biomedicine in this era, but also a deeply political artifact of the Cold War era, mass-produced by nuclear reactors and initially monopolized by the United States Atomic Agencies. When the US program for international distribution of radioisotopes, it also became a tool of diplomacy. This talk examines historical and political contexts in which the US AEC started exporting radioisotopes to Japan in 1950. While Japanese scientists speculated that it was an act of goodwill by US scientists, in particular, as a response to the destruction of Japanese cyclotrons (Nishina 1951 ), this talk will show that the US export of radioisotopes to Japan in 1950 was a result of a political process in the Cold War context.

“Genetics and the US-Japan Relationship in the 1950s” by Dr. Kaori Iida
Genetics in postwar Japan became one of the crucial sites for cultivating a better US-Japan relation in the Cold War. In this talk, Dr. llda aims to illustrate how the sociopolitical context shaped geneticists' public discussions of radiation in the 1950s. Immediately after the Bikini incident, many Japanese scientists started writing articles for the public about radiation concerns. Interestingly however, geneticists (those who were trained as geneticists) remained almost silent. Dr. llda discusses how the geneticists' desire to reconstruct their field , the existence of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Japan, and the Cold War context interacted and shaped how Japanese geneticists dealt with radiation issues.

“Radiation Measurement Movement by Citizen and their Interaction with Local Governments after Fukushima Accident in Japan”> by Dr. Nozomi Mizushima
Following the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in March 2011 , citizen 's movement against radioactive contamination gained prominence over a wide area in Japan, including Tokyo which is 200 kilometers away from Fukushima. Not only criticizing and protesting against high standard values of regulation level which Japanese government adopted provisionally, citizens also started measuring radiation level by themselves using their own devises and equipments. They also opened negotiations with their local government in response to their local conditions of contamination. In this talk, focusing on the Tokyo area, Dr. Mizushima examines how these citizens engaged in scientific and political activities in relation to their locality, and how they reshaped the autholity-led monitoring practices in the first six months from the accident.

Dr. Kam Wing Fung (Associate Professor, School of Chinese and Honorary Associate Professor, HKIHSS, The University of Hong Kong
Dr. Izumi Nakayama (Research Officer and Honorary Assistant Professor, HKIHSS, The University of Hong Kong

Location Map